Ahead by a Decade: Employment in 2030

How can we prepare Canadians for the future of work? Our new occupations and skills forecast explores how Canada’s labour market may evolve in the next decade.
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Diana Rivera
Senior Economist
Yasmin Rajabi
Project Manager
Rob Willoughby
Data Analyst

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About the Forecast

Preparing Canadians for the future of work in a dynamic labour market is one of the biggest challenges facing policymakers, employers, educators, service providers, and unions. Our Forecast of Canadian Occupational Growth provides a new tool for understanding how Canada’s labour market could evolve over the next decade, shaped by potentially disruptive drivers ranging from technological change to resource scarcity and an aging population. This forecast offers an important complement to existing labour market information. It presents a possible picture of the future that differs from the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), which largely relies on extrapolation from past trends. 

The forecast, including the data and modelling code used to build it, is available for download through BII+E’s GitHub. We encourage users to explore the data, and to use it to investigate further questions, generate new research, and inform existing labour market information (LMI) tools. 

GitHub

Use this forecast to help you:
  • Explore the occupations projected to grow or decline in employment share in Canada in the next 10 years.
  • Explore the skills, abilities, and knowledge traits driving these results.
  • Understand what experts think about the future of employment in Canada.
  • Consider how the future of employment could be impacted by disruption, potentially diverging from the projections of the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS).

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About the Report

Our accompanying report, Ahead by a Decade, provides a future-focused analysis of how Canada’s labour market could evolve by 2030. It highlights actionable insights into the jobs that are likely to grow or decline in importance across Canada in the next decade, and the skills that could help workers to navigate these shifts. Ahead by a Decade also explores the implications of this forecast for specific occupations, skills, industries, geographies and people. It looks at how different workers may be impacted, and how policy could be designed to respond.

With this analysis, we aim to help policymakers, program designers, educators, and service providers identify and respond to potential areas of risk and opportunity to better prepare current and future workers and employers for the employment and skills landscape of 2030.

Read this report to help you:
  • Explore key insights about the occupations projected to grow or decline in employment share in Canada in the next 10 years.
  • Learn about the foundational skills and abilities that are projected to build resilience.
  • Better understand how different workers are positioned to navigate these changes.
  • Consider policy responses that could help workers and employers navigate future change.
  • Understand the methodology behind the Brookfield Institute’s new forecast.

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The App

Our forecast results are also available through an interactive web application, which enables users to filter forecast results by occupations, skills, geography, and demographic characteristics. 

Web App

Key findings from the report:

  • 19% of Canadian workers are in occupations projected to grow; 15% are in occupations projected to decline in employment share. 
  • Jobs in health and science, as well as those requiring a high degree of service orientation or technical expertise (for example, nurses, chefs, and graphic designers) are projected to increase in employment share by 2030. Occupations in manufacturing and utilities, on the other hand, are generally projected to decrease in employment share in the next decade.
  • There are five foundational skills that are likely to be important across Canada’s labour market in 2030: instruction, persuasion, service orientation, brainstorming and memorization.
  • Risks, resilience, and opportunities are unevenly distributed across Canada’s population. For example:
    • Men are projected to experience more job risk as well as greater opportunity: They are more likely to be in both declining and growing occupations. 
    • Women, on the other hand, may experience fewer risks to their occupations in the future, but also fewer opportunities. Importantly, while fewer women are working in jobs projected to decline, those who are may be more vulnerable to change: they are paid significantly less than men in these jobs ($33,552 versus $42,883).
    • Workers with higher education and those with higher incomes are significantly more likely to be in occupations projected to grow.
    • First-generation immigrants are more likely to work in jobs projected to grow, compared to the workforce average. While visible minority workers are on average also more likely to hold jobs in occupations projected to grow, certain groups may face more risk. Notably, for men who identify as Filipino, Southeast Asian, Black, or Latin American–as well as those who do not identify as part of a visible minority–over one fifth are in occupations projected to shrink.
    • While limited, available data suggests that among all workers, Indigenous peoples are some of the most likely to be employed in occupations projected to decrease—and least likely to be in growing occupations. This underlines the need for investments in Indigenous-led initiatives to better enable Indigenous communities and workers to determine and respond to labour market change.
    • There is no single province or territory that is better positioned to navigate future employment change; however workers in Nunavut and Saskatchewan are slightly less likely to work in occupations projected to grow and more likely to work in declining ones.
  • By highlighting the occupations, industries, people, and regions who may face more disruption, as well as the skills and abilities that could help them adjust, this forecast aims to direct policy attention to where it is most needed, to proactively support worker and employer resilience.

Methodology

The Employment in 2030 project used a unique mixed method approach that leverages foresight research, survey responses and insights from 121 experts in cross-country workshops, and a machine learning model, to develop an occupations and skills forecast for Canada. 

It builds on an approach pioneered by Nesta in the United Kingdom and the United States as part of their Future of Skills project. BII+E worked with Nesta to extend their approach, with adjustments based on lessons learned from its original application, and to account for the unique characteristics of Canada’s labour market.

The project consisted of three phases:

Phase 1: Trends research

  • Research on the trends impacting the Canadian labour market over the next decade, which involved horizon scanning, a strategic foresight method that helped to identify signals of change gathered from academic journals, popular media, and fringe sources. Surveying over 600 sources, the scanning process identified 31 meso trends with varying levels of maturity. This research took place in the fall of 2018, and is described in the first Employment in 2030 report, Turn and Face the Strange: Changes Impacting the Future of Employment in Canada. 

Phase 2: Workshops

  • Turn and Face the Strange provided context for the second phase of the project: six workshops held across Canada, inviting a range of diverse labour market experts to share how they expect select occupations might change in the next 10–15 years. Collected through an occupation-specific survey, this data was used to inform the final forecast.
  • The workshop was created using human-centred design principles that encouraged collaboration between all participants through group discussion, gameplay, and critical thinking. The summary of these workshops and the qualitative insights gathered from them are captured in the second report in the series, Signs of the Times: Expert insights about employment in 2030. It delves into how experts expect jobs might change in the future, how changes may vary by region, and which trends are likely responsible for driving these transitions. 

Phase 3: Forecast and accompanying report

  • The occupational projection data provided by experts at the workshops was used to train a random forest machine learning model. The model was built to create a forecast driven by the underlying skills, abilities, and knowledge important to each occupation. This algorithm allowed us to extrapolate from expert data collected at the workshops to project what experts would have said about all occupations across the Canadian labour market. 
  • The forecast and accompanying report summarize the results of this project, highlighting the occupations that are projected to grow or decline by 2030. Importantly, Ahead by a Decade also explores the foundational and complementary skills essential for building a resilient workforce, as well as the distribution of occupational changes across Canadian geographies and demographic groups. Based on these insights, it suggests areas for action to help focus the country’s skills-development efforts and support the development of a more inclusive labour market.

Partners and Sponors

This project is made possible in part thanks to funding from the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiative Program and the Max Bell Foundation.

This work was carried out in partnership with Nesta, and with the support of Element AI and of local convening partners, including Canada West Foundation, SFU Public Square, the Newfoundland and Labrador Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC) at CNA, Percolab, and Yukon College.

 

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Jun 30, 2020

After 18-months of work, our Employment in 2030 project is nearing its finale. Find out what we have planned next and what may become of this research going forward.
Getting to 2030: A maintenance and sustainability strategy

May 29, 2020

We created a growth and skills forecast that outlines some of the potential areas of growth and risk for workers and employers in 2030. What comes next?
We Have A Forecast! Now what?

May 29, 2020

As Canada and the world grapple with how to recover from the current COVID-19 crisis, thinking about the long-term will be more important than ever. We hope this forecast may be a useful contribution.
A Note re: Forecasts in times of extreme uncertainty

May 29, 2020

The Brookfield Institute launches the new Forecast of Canadian Occupational Growth
Ahead by a Decade: Canadian employment in 2030
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